First: The Hidden Mall – a beginning of something
They got ready to take the door that Liv-Old suggested, because it would be silly not to trust her now, their robotic whites changed out for sporting clothes, their packs re-balanced with new supplies. “You won’t need protection from the rain or other elements much,” Liv-Old had commented, “but you might need protection from cold floors or rampaging monsters.”
It had seemed like good advice, but Abby had noted Liv-2 grabbing an umbrella and had grabbed one of her own, which had gotten Liv-1 to grab one, and then they were taking the door.
“Remember,” Liv-Old warned them.
“I remember,” Abby assured her. She reached out and touched the woman’s cheek. It was still her friend. Just… her friend like three times her age. “Take care of yourself, okay?”
She turned away politely so she and Liv-Old could pretend she hadn’t seen tears in the older woman’s eyes. “All right. Livs?”
Liv-1 hesitated. “We could stay here, you know.” She gulped. “I mean. We wouldn’t get home that way. I know. But we could stay here, and… never see any beavers, but I can’t remember why that was important. And maybe we would just, I don’t know. Collect more people?”
“The thing is,” Liv-2 answered very slowly, “that something is eating Abbies. But nothing is eating Abbies here. We could stay here.” Her hand tightened on Abby’s. “Stay here with Liv-Mom and be safe.”
“We could,” Abby answered. They could. She looked between the Livs. Her Livs both looked hopeful. They looked worried. They looked… tired. “But the thing is… something is eating Abbies, right? And the problem is, if we stay here, nobody is going to stop that thing from eating other Abbies. Which, well. I don’t like something eating me – people that are a lot like me. People that look and think like me. I don’t like something eating anyone,” she added, feeling a little selfish. “And we can’t stop it if we stay here, tucked away and safe.”
“But, well, the thing is,” started Liv-2, “how do we know that we can stop it? We don’t even know how to find whatever’s eating the things. We’ve gotten bitten by sharks and chased by plastic people – and by robots! – and then there were the vines that were literally eating people. There aren’t a lot of safe things out there. But if, uh, if older-me is right and there’s something in this multiverse-mall targeting you, how are we supposed to find it, much less stop it?”
“It’s fine to think about what the Pevensies would do,” Liv-1 put in, “but they had Aslan and the Beavers and a whole host of other people. All we have is ourselves.”
“Then… I guess we need more of ourselves.”